Before I go any further, please know that I am okay. If that changes, I do have a list of people to contact, things I can do and places I can go. I meant for the title of this post to be a little goofy to try to lighten the mood since I use humor to deal with all of my problems (thanks Dad), but I am going to be discussing a serious subject.
I really dislike that it’s taboo to talk about mental illness, therapy, etc. It really bothers me that by admitting that I deal with these things on social media or to people in general, then I must just be doing it for the attention. I wanted to write about this for a few reasons: 1) Writing is therapeutic for me. Since my first two posts, all I’ve wanted to do is write! I used to write poetry and short stories all the time in high school, so I’ve really enjoyed getting back into it. 2) I would love for people to be more comfortable discussing mental illness. Even if it’s just with me, that’s a start.
Self-harm and suicidal thoughts are something I’ve dealt with before, starting in high school. When these thoughts and urges started resurfacing most recently, I began taking steps to ensure I was better prepared to deal with them this time around. First, I visited my doctor who prescribed my third anti-depressant. The first two I had only taken for about a month each due to anxiety revolving around the idea of being medicated. I had it in my head that taking medication somehow made me a lesser person. Obviously this is not the case, but society’s perception of mental illness seems to perpetuate these thoughts.
Lesson learned: taking medication does not make you better or worse than anyone else. Taking medication does not make you weak. Doing what you need to do to make sure you are safe is an important and brave decision.
I also began seeing a therapist. Going to therapy was the BEST decision I have ever made for my mental health. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, everyone could benefit from therapy. Who doesn’t deal with shit at some point? That’s right, no one. The therapist I began seeing was the second I had visited. I was wary to see him since I didn’t feel that I had seen any progress with the first. But for some reason, I made my first appointment and I have been seeing him on a semi-regular basis ever since. I actually really look forward to our appointments!
Lesson learned: seeing a therapist does not mean that you are weak or unworthy in any way, shape, or form. If you don’t feel that you’re getting what you need out of therapy, tell them that or go see someone else! To some extent, you get out of it what you put into it so it is also important to be open and honest with yourself and with them.
My next move was the most difficult: telling my friends and family what I was going through. I wanted to do this so that I could have a few more eyes watching me; so they could hold me accountable for not hurting myself. Sadly, the hardest part of this step was the fear that I was not in bad enough shape to warrant this conversation. I didn’t (still don’t) have a plan, I hadn’t (still haven’t) attempted. You’re not supposed to show weakness, right? Luckily, I had the sense to see past these doubts.
I am SO thankful for the responses I received from people. Ranging from storing/hiding sharp objects, to just reminding me that they were there for me and how much I am loved and appreciated by so many. One friend even gave me a key to their apartment in case I needed a place to get away. I am so glad I had the courage to tell these people how I was feeling. They’ve all had a hand in saving my life.
Lesson learned: Do not let other people’s opinions keep you from doing what you need to do to be safe and to get help. True friends will be there for you when you need them.
My most recent bought of depression/suicidal thoughts spiked after a series of unfortunately shitty events with someone I had been dating that ended in us splitting up for good. I bring this up because I learned some very important things during this time:
You cannot rely on someone else for your happiness. At least, not for very long. I am fond of a quote I found on Tumblr that said, “I am not looking for my other half because I am already whole”. We place so much importance on finding your better half, someone you can lean on and trust in and be with forever. When really, if we don’t know what we want, what makes us happy, and how to feel fulfilled and comfortable on our own then we end up relying on our partners to fill these gaps, leaving us feeling empty when things don’t work out.
For weeks after things with my ex occurred, I woke up every morning unable to get out of bed. Tissues were scattered all over my floor because I spent most of the day crying. I didn’t wear makeup anywhere because it wouldn’t last long enough to make it worth it. I didn’t shower for several days, I stopped eating, I lost 7 lbs. in one week, I didn’t work out, I didn’t get many hours in at work, and I could constantly hear a whisper in the back of my head saying, “I just want to die. I just want it to end.”
One day I woke up and I didn’t cry. I felt like doing something with my hair and putting effort into what I wore. I visited my family and I didn’t cry there either. I went to work and was able to focus more easily. I was so excited that it was finally happening, I was getting better! When I woke up the next day, it was as if that good day had never happened. I was distraught. I felt, even more so now, that something was wrong with me. It took some time, but I came to understand that a few days, weeks, months, and even years down the road, I would still come across these bad days. I had to accept that this would happen, but that it would pass. That it is okay to feel bad on the bad days, and that it’s okay to feel good on the good days.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self harm, you are not alone. There is help. Please be sure to reach out! http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ offers some great resources, including a suicide hotline.